Blocked anal glands and anal gland abscesses



  • The anal glands are a pair of small pouches that sit just inside the anus at the 4 o’clock and 8 o’clock positions, they contain a fishy smelling liquid which dogs use this to mark territory. 

  • The anal glands normally empty during muscular contraction when dogs defecate.

  • If the anal glands aren’t emptied normally then they can block, and anal gland abscesses can develop.

  • Anal gland abscesses require veterinary attention as soon as possible, they are extremely painful and can burst.

Signs your dog may have trouble emptying their anal glands: 

  • The first sign is usually scooting or dragging their anus along the floor.

  • Your dog may also lick, chew, or bite at their back end 

  • The anus can appear red or swollen 

  • You may also notice a fishy smell 

Signs your dog may have developed an anal gland abscess:

  • In addition to the above when dog develop an anal glands abscess, this can be particularly painful 

  • You may notice a wound near their bottom, including some discharge, blood, or matted coat 

  • It is important that you seek veterinary advise as soon as possible 

How can I prevent issues in the future?

  • Obesity can affect a dog’s ability to empty their glands and overweight dogs often empty their anal glands normally 

  • Changes in stool consistency can also influence a dog's ability to express their anal glands normally, this can be improved by increasing the fibre in their diet. We recommend you speak to you veterinarian for more information on how this can be achieved. 

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This advice is for UK pets only. This information should be used a reference point only, it is important to always seek the advice of a veterinary surgeon before administering any medication or diagnosing your pet’s condition.